The Beating Heart of Texas

There is not a single crevice that isn't visible. Everything has it's own light, even the dead, dried plants that somehow exist on every surface, smooth or uneven. The only touchable, welcoming things are artificial, and don't belong. All else is prickly and irritates the skin. So our hands have grown callused and unimpressed with minor stings from the nettles and small, spiky plants that seem to crawl along the ground, expanding with every sparse amount of rain.

Nothing too tall. Mountains are gaped at. Pines are instant kindling. The trees squat low to drink rainwater that races into their shallow digs, off rolling hills that sculpt the land. Irregular patterns of everything. From the fields to the ever-present cactus. From midnight concerts of keening cicadas to the rise and fall of the lazy sun, which burns as it may please.

With a body meant for some far off country -with sub-freezing temperatures and potatoes in the ground- I flush in physical confusion at the slowly simmering air. My skin heats of it's own accord, with a natural fever to fit what I was born as. And so, there is a battle, between certain seasons and me. As the degree rises, I shed more armor, and on a day like this, I am left with a bikini top and shorts, sweat still dripping. When the degree falls I rejoice and bask in the relief of cooler temps, but I have come to know and adore these sweltering conditions in which my home maintains.

The ground is like a magnet, and everything crouches down to be closer. The grass, the trees, and every living creature…except us. With a towering presence in this little, dry world, we've become somewhat smug. But we never do notice the difference between our feet and yours. How they are like the pads of a dog's paw, or the leathery texture of the saddles we ride. How we walk barefooted on trails of crushed stone, oblivious to any damage this harsh, smarting environment would have us endure.

You think if we are few, and we live small, we will not notice. You think we are naïve and young of mind, and will never notice a small change, or something else dead and dry, in the long expanse of land that caresses our homes. No, we will always see when something is different, when one stretch of dirt is disturbed, or if there is more silence on the wind. Despite the sweat and the sticky heat, we know our town.

Shade will come and go, and every breeze or moment in the rain is important, because it only lasts a little while. The ground may hold steady for every step and every truck, but when the water doesn't come down from the sky, it shifts as if it's going somewhere to find more, and it cracks like the dry clay it is. The mesquite trees may dip low for climbers with tough feet wherever you see them, but life only lasts for so long, and one day they will break like brittle firewood. So you may think our place was born dead, and will always stay that way, but it is a safe haven for hope and belief, and in return, that hope and belief keeps it alive, and turns it all into a beating heart. The beating heart of Texas.